Gun dealer questions proposed firearms act changes

CEO 868 Tactical Firearms and Accessories holds a Grand Power Stribog SR9 A3 as he explains firearms safety and classifications in this file photo. Also in photo is law enforcement consultant Paul Nahous. - Photo by Jeff K. Mayers
CEO 868 Tactical Firearms and Accessories holds a Grand Power Stribog SR9 A3 as he explains firearms safety and classifications in this file photo. Also in photo is law enforcement consultant Paul Nahous. - Photo by Jeff K. Mayers

Dirk Barnes, CEO of 868 Tactical Firearms and Accessories Ltd, says while he agrees with some of the Government’s proposals to amend the firearm laws, he questions other parts.

In an interview with Newsday, Barnes said he supports a revision of the act, calling it a “need.”

He also supports establishing a firearms license board and believes a board would facilitate more collaboration in determining who is eligible to obtain FULs.

But Barnes is dissatisfied with the government’s approach, saying, “They’re putting this down the throats of citizens, what really is the agenda? Any law the government is putting forth as it relates to national security should only have one objective in mind to promote the safety and security of all citizens.”

He said he hopes the revision is not politically motivated and its main focus is the safety and security of the public.

Barnes challenges the proposed gun-free zones recommendation, which includes Parliament, courts, schools, colleges, universities, childcare centres, bars, banks, places of worship and any government or private buildings declared by the minister.

He said declaring these places gun-free will only benefit criminals.

“Criminals will ignore those laws. So you would have the law-abiding people not going to these places with their firearms, and the criminals still going there because they are criminals.”

Barnes stressed by disarming the nation in certain spaces, the government will inadvertently help criminals exploit the public in those areas.

“The proposed law is supposed to create a safer environment, but it will not be served with this particular amendment.”

He believes the proposed amendments will disarm people who have legal firearms. Barnes said legal firearm owners have already made adjustments to manage their safety and the safety of their businesses and families. He said legal firearm holders are not a liability to the state.

“The government is saying they don’t want some of the citizens to have a level of safety and security for themselves.”

Barnes says the government amendments to the law come at a time when the police service is struggling to curb crime and he questions why they would identify a demographic of citizens who can protect themselves now and disarm them.

He said this will put an additional burden on a system that is already heavily burdened.

“If the original premise of this law, as opposed to a greater safe and secure environment, is not served by the amendment, then it is not serving the original or intended purpose.”

He said the proposed revision targets law-abiding citizens but fails to focus on illegal firearm owners.

“They’re saying they don’t have a good enforcement programme for criminals because you’re bringing in new laws. Were the old laws being enforced? Have we reached the point where the old laws are not sufficient?”

He questions the government’s ability to enforce the current laws, saying, “Criminals are moving around freely.”

Barnes said the government is “selling the premise” that criminals are covered, the laws are being enforced and criminal enterprises are under control.

“They’re selling a story that firearm owners are running amok. At least that’s how it comes across.”

Barnes stressed the real threat to national security and safety is not law-abiding citizens with FULs.

“There’s no statistic, no paper that has been made public, no actionable, or any kind of intelligence that has been shared that suggests the same. So then my question would be, why is the government focusing so much on law-abiding citizens with firearms?”

The Firearms Control Bill has gone out for comment, with a final consultation meeting scheduled for May 20 and 21.

Some of the changes include:

• Removal of the Commissioner of Police Discretion to approve gun licenses.

• Ban on Military-Type Weapons in the hands of civilians.

• Gun-Free Zones

• Establishment of a Firearms Licensing Board

• Changes to the Firearm Appeal Board include providing new definitions for firearms, setting out prohibited items and proposing different types of permits.

• Prohibiting automatic firearms, military-style semi-automatic firearms, firearms disguised as other objects and imitation firearms. Includes provisions on prohibited ammunition not covered by the current law.

• Exempts certain individuals from the application of the Act, such as police officers, members of the Defence Force, cadets, prison officers, customs and excise officers, Strategic Services Agency officers and directors at the Forensic Science Centre.

• Expands the criteria for who can receive an FUL.

• Sets out different types of licenses and types of firearms.

• Changes to security firms and shooting ranges.

Gun Amnesty Power (provides for the power to declare a gun amnesty.)


"Gun dealer questions proposed firearms act changes"

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